A KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) Treasury budget briefing to the province’s Social Development portfolio committee has revealed that the Department of Social Development (DSD) only managed to distribute 1 025 food parcels to poor and hungry citizens during the months of July and August. This despite a target of 176 908 for the two months.
The finding, exposed during the briefing held late yesterday, comes after numerous allegations of corruption, mismanagement and nepotism within the Department, led by MEC Nonhlanhla Khoza.
The DA is stunned by this revelation. That the DSD only managed to deliver just over a thousand parcels is beyond belief. These are food parcels that were meant for the province’s most vulnerable citizens, at the height of a global health pandemic, when many people had lost all forms of income.
Yesterday’s budget briefing was an embarrassment and the MEC should hang her head in shame. That she, as the political head of this Department, could not provide any plausible answers for the lack of distribution of food parcels is shocking. This while it also remains unclear as to whether the outstanding 175 000 odd parcels were even procured or whether they are lying rotting somewhere
In a pathetic effort to save her own skin, MEC Khoza, during yesterday’s briefing, tried to shift the blame for a lack of delivery to DSD clusters in the province, claiming that her Department had spent approximately R25 million on food, which had then been distributed to them. She then went on to make excuses about a lack of staff to get the food delivered and that they were being hijacked, amongst others.
While the MEC is clearly trying to escape accountability the question remains – what have she and her senior management done to change the situation and assist the clusters? The delivery of food is one of the most basic roles that this Department has to play, particularly during times of crisis. That it could not fulfil this mandate raises very serious questions around leadership.
It also appears that MEC Khoza is quite happy to throw her HOD – and anyone else who gets in her way – under the bus. This after she announced that her HOD would present a turnaround strategy at an online meeting scheduled for 2pm today.
It is increasingly clear that this Department is not capable of self-correction under the current MEC. The DA today calls on Premier Sihle Zikalala to take swift action and place it under administration. Equally, if MEC Khoza has any conscience whatsoever, she will step down with immediate effect. She owes this to the people of KZN.